It's happened time and time again. A young teenage driver hits the Late Model scene and is gone in an instant with the dream of moving up into the big leagues. Often, the path upwards eventually comes to a quick dead-end. Budgets will be blown to smithereens in a higher series without having the Late Model foundation firmly planted with victories and ample laps of experience.
No one can ever accuse Spencer Davis of that.
Stuck between the age gap and needing experience, Davis has been a staple of the Late Model ranks in recent seasons and plans for more of the same in 2014. Along with his father Scott, a former racer and crew chief Micky Cain, a former Word Crown 300 winner, Davis tackled one of the most aggressive Late Model schedules modern-day racers can see in 2013. It was a throwback to the barnstorming racers of yesterday, where the team would race at least once every weekend just about year-round. All told, Davis competed in 66 Late Model races in 2013.
That was all done for one simple reason - to make the now-15-year-old Davis better.
"It was an interesting year," said Davis of his 2013 season. "We had to do a lot to figure out where we were going, when we would leave and all that sort of travel stuff."
And travel they did. From Texas to Maine and even Canada the, team got their fill of the road and their share of tracks they didn't know were on the map.
"We went to places I had never heard of," said Davis. "Negative-banked tracks, tight quarter-miles. There were points where I wish we could have tested and done some more things we didn't do, but I think it made us stronger."
Battling tracks blind was one of the biggest hurdles for Davis in 2013. Still, Davis was able to log 20 top-five finishes between Pro Late Models and Super Late Models. He also took home 33 top-10 finishes. Along the way they managed to land in victory lane three times, sometimes by an inch and sometimes by a mile.
"It was the year we wanted, but it wasn't at the same time" added Davis. "You always want to win more races, but we went weeks at a time racing at tracks that were new to us. We went to Texas and dominated at San Antonio Speedway and won. That was our best on a new track."
Along the way of their tour of America and beyond, Davis raced at 20 different tracks in 11 states. Fellow Georgia racers Chase Elliott ran 40 races in 2010 and Bubba Pollard competed in 47 event in 2011, but even those numbers pale in comparison to Davis' 66 in 2013.
"Some weeks we would get lucky and not have a scratch on the car and then other weeks we would have to replace both sides," said Davis, who admitted that keeping the car clean was the key to going to the next race. "It was a challenging year to keep the cars up and having them ready to race. Micky and myself did most all of the work on the cars from chassis work to body work and all the fabrication."
Davis is home-schooled to allow him to travel and work on the car in his free time after his classes are complete.
"I have been blessed to be able to run this much," said Davis. "I would race 24/7 if I could and we almost did that last season. Racing is what I enjoy and 2013 was a fun year. My family has helped me a ton to get me to where I am today."
Where he is today is a driver who has learned how to race Late Models after countless laps in 2013. He'll take that experience into 2014, where he will be competing in this weekend's Pete Orr Memorial/Orange Blossom 100 at New Smyrna, followed by SpeedFest at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Georgia and at New Smyrna for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. From there, the schedule is wide open. Davis will definitely be competing in different series throughout the country, including the Southern Super Series doubleheader weekends at Five Flags (FL) and Mobile (AL) with a buildup towards the Snowball Derby in December.
When the time does come for Davis to make the next step on the ladder, he'll be armed with possibly more laps under his belt than any driver his age ever has.